Slap. Slap. Slap. My footfalls resound heavy on the track. They are slower than the rest of my TRX class. My bad knees and ankles prevent me from running but I’m trying to keep moving and not let that stop me completely. I do what I can, tossing in a few extra laps of power walking to compensate. I laugh it off as a friend passes me—yet again. “I’m the slow gazelle. You just need to outrun me to avoid the lions.” She laughs.
The truth, however, is that each step this morning has brought lions biting at my heels—echoes of lies I’ve heard and believed my whole life. I’m slow. I’m fat. I’ll never look like the rest of the class. I’m less-than. I’m not enough. And then the big one: Why do I even bother?
When trying to do anything that takes work and effort, isn’t that the biggest lie to combat? If I’m not as good as the rest, why even try?
But something comes to mind about this class full of more fit, more agile, and often younger people: the encouragement I get at random times. Good job, Jenn. Way to go, Jenn. You can do it, Jenn. No one judges me, at least out loud. As I take my time on the stairs and they whiz by me at double my speed, so many of them offer a smile or one of these encouragements.
Heather, the teacher, is always kind about offering different levels of each exercise for different abilities. She never singles me out and always graciously answers my questions. She’s the main reason I keep coming back to this class in particular. My friend Chelsea is the cheerleader that keeps me exercising in general.
There’s power in encouragement. Over the years I have strived to become better at encouraging others. I’ve seen the way it can impact someone’s day or even their life. I’ve felt the way it impacts mine.
So then I answer the biggest lie: why do I even bother? I bother because as a widowed mom my kids need me healthy. I bother because I want to keep active when I’m old. I bother because my late-husband didn’t and now he’s gone. I bother because it is the right thing to do—even if I’ll never be the fastest gazelle in the herd.
So now the slap, slap, slap of my feet fills me with truth to chase off the lions. I have fat, fat is not who I am. I don’t need to look like the rest of the class. God made me unique and as long as I am doing my best, that’s what’s important. I do this for Jarod and Ryan and Kati and Lucy. I do this to feel more fit and maybe to start looking more trim.
And as far as not being enough, being less-than, for that I go to the highest reminder—God’s word. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14). I am loved with an everlasting love no matter what I look like or how fast I move in exercise class. (Jeremiah 31:3) I am God’s masterpiece, created to do good works He has destined for me to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
God has plans for me and comparing myself to others or trying to live up to impossible expectations is not in those plans. He has plans for you, too. You are God’s masterpiece—not his side project or his fixable mess. You are his MASTERPIECE, created in the image of Christ to do amazing things that He destined you to do.
That’s a whole lot better idea to focus on than what you are not. And focusing on it this morning helped chase away the lions nipping at this slow gazelle’s heels.